Battle

Right now I’m beating myself up.

I’m fighting the tail end of some stomach ick but also realizing that it’s hard to tell the point where physical illness ends and depression begins.

Excuses are easy and being sick makes a really good excuse to sleep away 24 hours.  Sleeping away 24 hours for the second day in a row looks a lot like depression.

I’ve gained back enough weight that I can feel it in my skin and I can feel it in my clothes and I can feel it in my joints, but I’m afraid to get on that scale because I don’t want to know the numbers.

I start physical therapy on Monday because my back and my knees hurt so bad that it’s making working out and even walking difficult again and I know it’s because spending the last 6 months fighting my mental health has let my physical health fall apart so badly that I’m falling back into old habits.

I’m stuck spinning wheels and I see it happening, entire days just lost and it’s great that I’m not suicidal but is it really better when I’m not fighting to live anymore?

Excuses come so easily right now.

And I’m beating myself up for it but I’m not really sure how to push past it.

I don’t want to go back to who I was and I’m starting to see her in the mirror again.  I’m starting to feel her in my bones again.   I may not be trying to kill myself but I’m slowly dying again and I can’t find the will to turn it around again.

I know where this leads.

What’s Real

My brain spends a lot of time telling me lies.

Anxiety is my brain telling me there is danger when there isn’t any.  It causes my entire system to react as if there truly were a danger.

Suicidal thoughts cause my brain to think I really want to die, and at times I’ve attempted to act on those thoughts because they seem so real.

I spend a lot of my time trying to work out which thoughts are real, and which aren’t.  I have to work out what is anxiety and what is intuition.   Sometimes it is easy to get too wrapped up in my own head.

When your brain spends most of its time telling you lies, it becomes very difficult to trust yourself.  Sometimes that goes too far.

Now that I’m trying to write this out, it’s hard to put it into words, so try to follow along.

Sometimes I start questioning not only how others feel about me, but how I feel about others, and if my brain is playing tricks on me.

If my brain is capable of perceiving danger that isn’t really there, if people really do care about me and my brain is lying to me and telling me they don’t, then maybe my brain is lying to me about my feelings about other things and people too.

Do I even know how to love people?  Is this really what love is?  And not even just romantic love, or friendship love.  I felt this way as Kidlet was growing up too.

Maybe I don’t really know how to care about people.  Maybe it’s me who doesn’t care enough or know how to love and maybe what I feel isn’t really love and maybe I don’t even know what love actually feels like because my brain has been lying to me all along.

I start over analyzing all of it.

How many times does someone have to lie to you before you start questioning everything they tell you?

What if the person that lied was your own brain and it lies about your own thoughts?

How would you begin to trust yourself again?

What if as soon as you started trusting yourself another round of bad anxiety or suicidal thoughts happened again and you had to convince yourself not to trust those thoughts?

It takes a lot of energy to untangle this overthinking, and a lot of that energy is spent just sitting with the thoughts and letting them run as background noise.

I’m thankful when they can stay relatively quiet.  I’m thankful when the people in my life understand.  I’m thankful when I don’t have to work so hard to untangle what is real and what isn’t because none of it matters as much.

I’m thankful when I can just be.

 

Talk it Out

One of the harder things since Wonder Woman moved in has been learning how to  communicate my needs and accept that she may not do things the way I would do them.

We are such different people.  For a long while, “Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul was jokingly played when we would find, yet another, thing that was polar opposite about us.

She is the chaos to my order.

I love her because of her chaos.  She reminds me to relax and that it doesn’t have to be perfect.  She reminds me that my positive affirmations can always have a chaotic addendum.  She’s the one telling me that I don’t have to be strong all of the time and that I should feel all of my feelings, including the negative ones, and that I should cut myself some slack when those negative feelings keep me from doing all of the things.

Her chaos reminds me that I don’t have to do it all right now, and that sometimes, it doesn’t matter if I do it right now, or next week, it will still be there and it can still get done.

But sometimes my need for order, and her penchant for chaos, clash.

Navigating that conflict is hard.

Conflict is a type of trauma for me and I want to run from tension.  I’m learning that I can speak my feelings and have them validated as opposed to negated.

I’m finding my voice.

And when I get angry I am learning.

Tension doesn’t have to mean anger or fighting.  Tension can be okay.  It can just be a feeling that is there.  Something I don’t have to run from or act on.  Once I stop fighting against myself, I can see more clearly what’s happening in front of me.

It’s much easier to discuss a situation from a position of clarity instead of through anger and frustration.

And often, once I can see the situation clearly I realize there’s no reason to be angry at all.  Her chaos and my order complement each other very nicely.  We find a comfortable balance.

Until the next time we don’t, and then we’ll talk it out again.

Mud

I write a lot about the really horrible feelings of bipolar depression.  The black pit of nothingness where I can’t see a reason to go on for another moment.

I write a lot about the days where I’m hypomanic and colors are brighter and emotions all feel bigger and better.

I’ve even started writing about the regular every day days.  The days where things feel “normal” and not too much or too dark.

There’s another type of depression though.  These aren’t the black pit, but they are just apathy.  I’ll sit and stare into space and realize an hour has gone past.  I’ll sit and scroll on Facebook over and over and over and not even realize what I’m looking at.  I don’t really feel sad, but I don’t really feel anything.

My chainmaille supplies and my diamond painting supplies are right here on my desk, it really isn’t much work at all to get them out, but there is no real desire to actually go through the motions to do it.  I’m bored, but no interest in not being bored.  I sleep less, or I sleep more, neither really matters because I don’t really have all that much desire to get out of bed or to go to bed.  I don’t really care where I am.

Dishes will pile up in the sink, laundry sits unfolded, feeding the animals feels like a chore.  I go to the gym and stand there staring at the machines with no clue where to even start because I don’t have interest in any of it.

I hurt everywhere, but this isn’t just from my chronic pain issues, this is because depression causes pain too.  It’s a different kind of pain, one that medication doesn’t really take care of.

It’s not the desperate feeling like the extreme depression I normally write about.  It’s no where near as dangerous or as harmful.  However, this apathy is a more common form of depression and is something that a lot of people struggle with.

Once I manage to get started on a project, or convince myself to wash just a couple of dishes, I normally can stick with it and get a decent amount done.  It’s constantly finding that balance between giving myself some leeway, being gentle with myself, and accepting that right now I’m moving through mud and things are harder, but also pushing myself to still get things done and keep some momentum.

Luckily it seems like my medications are doing their job.  I’m staying at this level of depression for now and not sinking further.  I’m still able to keep functioning at some level and have good hours and good days.

Right now I appreciate that my depression is mild, this is much easier to live with than the black hole I kept sinking into before.  This still sucks, but it could be so much worse.  I’m trying to keep writing, trying to stay connected with my friends and support network.

Even though I’m walking through mud, I still keep pushing forward, one step at a time.  The only way out is through.

Lucky in Love

Today is about Wonder Woman and I.  Today is a day that we celebrate our year of firsts.  We went to bed after midnight last night smiling about our first year, and talking about sticking around for another year, and this morning we woke up and cuddled in closer together for anniversary cuddles.

And then someone mentioned how lucky we were.  And I realized, I am lucky, and not only am I lucky right now, I’m lucky enough to have had this twice now.  Two totally different relationships that had an amazing amount of love.

And then the tears started falling.

Dammit, here’s another special day darkened by the cloud of widowhood.

I wanted to stuff it down, bury it, not let myself deal with it, because today is about Wonder Woman and I and dammit, I’m not going to let Ghost Wife have the spotlight.  But the more I tried to push it down the bigger the cloud became.

Then I figured I’d keep it quiet, not let Wonder Woman know because I didn’t want to hurt her and let her know that I was even thinking about Parker on a day like today.  But, then it came out, tears and all, because I can’t always keep a wall up when my feelings are so big.

So I’m writing, and sharing, and processing the best way I know how.

Parker has been a part of our relationship since day one.  A year ago, I couldn’t go a full day without mentioning Parker’s name or some story about us.  A year ago I hadn’t even said “late wife” for the first time, she was still my wife.  A year ago Wonder Woman started dating me knowing that Parker was, and would always be a part of my life.  That I would always be a widow.

Sometimes I think she knows that, and accepts that, better than I do.

I don’t always understand how she’s so accepting of all of it and of me.  I can’t always see that I deserve this.  There is so much love in our relationship and I find myself questioning my right to this.

It’s hard to accept that she loves me for me, all of me.  All of me includes the part that is a widow, and that means sometimes on anniversaries I will grieve who I was and what brought me here.

But I still want to be right where I’m at, because I deserve every bit of this.

I deserve happy and I deserve love.

I’m so so lucky to have found it a second time.

Look At How You’ve Grown

I talked to Kidlet for over an hour today.  We were both taking long walks, on our respective sides of the country, while talking over the phone about our current lives and our past, various relationships and friendships we’ve had over the years.  We talked about religion and politics and food and memories and finances.

So many different times throughout the conversation I was amazed by his maturity, and how articulate he is.  He’s always been well spoken but the breaks between our conversations make it more noticeable.  He will always be my Kidlet, but he’s not a kid anymore.

Our relationship has changed drastically.  Not in bad ways at all.  I no longer need to offer advice the way I once tried to, but he still calls just so he can hear me on the other end of the line.  We are still as close as we always were, but in a totally different way.  In some ways I think we are even closer.

Hours spent walking with a restless infant in my arms are now replaced by hours walking and talking on the phone.  The 18 years in between seem like a blur.

 

 

Judge

I love getting feedback about how my honesty helps others.  I love hearing how my speaking up is helping others to find their voice.  I’ve been sharing my story and speaking my truth in some format for as long as I can remember, but it’s changed.  From screaming about how unfair life is to explaining how this life can happen to anyone.  Rants about inadequate mental and physical health care slowly changed into posts about my grief journey and how I was “working it out” at the gym.  Slowly that has morphed into what it is today and I’m sure it will continue changing as I keep writing.

One thing that will never change is that quietly, in the background, there are people who are judging me.

When I was talking about homelessness and house fires and poverty, people were blaming me for not working harder and raising my child in a better situation.  When I was ranting and raving about doctors who wouldn’t take me seriously because I was on government health insurance and doctors who just saw me as a fat lazy female, there were people who were judging me because I shouldn’t be complaining about the care I got for free, or I should just lose weight like the doctors said and stop fighting all of their advice.

When I was grieving through joy, people were judging me because I wasn’t crying enough, I wasn’t sad enough, I didn’t wear my black veil and spend enough time in silent mourning.  They were judging me for living life large, for finding the joy, for proclaiming that I was enough and celebrating all of my successes despite losing my wife.

Today people are judging me for speaking up about mental health, about grief, about widowhood.  My “really real” posts are too real.  I share too much pain, too much sorrow, but also I’m judged for managing to be so dark one day, and find so much joy the next.

I’m judged for Parker’s death, and that’s something that will never change.  There are people who see it as being directly my fault, because I pushed her to it.  There are those who see it as being indirectly my fault, because I should have seen the signs or done more to help her.

It wouldn’t matter what I wrote or didn’t write.  What I said, or didn’t say.  There will always be someone in the shadows judging me.  I will always be too much or too little for someone, somewhere, sometime.

Instead of focusing on those who are judging me I choose to focus on what helps me, what do I need, what helps me process my grief, my mental health, my situation.  What is the best form of self care, for me, today?  That isn’t always easy.  There’s always a voice in the back of my head asking what other people are going to think if I say this or write that.  Am I going to hurt this person, or is that person going to take it personally?  Will they laugh at me or think less of me for sharing this.

The truth is, at any given moment someone is judging me for something anyway, and that’s their problem.  I need to handle my life in a way that’s going to help me survive and even thrive.  For me, that means writing about the hard stuff.  That means speaking my story and sharing my truth.

What does that mean for you?